Enjoy sledding, skating

and more this winter

As conditions permit, sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing and ice fishing may be enjoyed in select Summit Metro Parks locations, and several are lighted for after-sunset fun. Most park areas are open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. unless otherwise posted. Visitors must bring their own equipment. To learn whether sledding and skating areas are open, call 330-865-8060 or follow @metro_parks on Twitter.


-- Cascade Valley Park / Oxbow Area (lighted); 1061 Cuyahoga St., Akron

-- Firestone Metro Park / Warner Road Area; 200 E. Warner Rd., Akron

-- Firestone Metro Park / Tuscarawas Meadows Area; 2620 Harrington Rd., Akron

-- Furnace Run Metro Park / Brushwood Area; 4955 Townsend Rd., Richfield

-- Goodyear Heights Metro Park / Main Entrance (lighted); 2077 Newton St., Akron

-- Munroe Falls Metro Park / Lake Area (lighted); 521 S. River Rd., Munroe Falls

-- Sand Run Metro Park -- North Hawkins Area (lighted); 800 N. Hawkins Ave., Akron

Ice skating

-- Furnace Run Metro Park / Brushwood Lake (lighted); 4955 Townsend Rd., Richfield

-- Gorge Metro Park / Main Entrance (lighted); 1160 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls

-- Sand Run Metro Park / Big Bend Area (lighted); 1337 Merriman Rd., Akron

Ice fishing

-- Liberty Park / Tinkers Creek Area; 10303 Aurora-Hudson Rd., Streetsboro

-- Nimisila Reservoir Metro Park: 5550 Christman Rd., Green

-- Silver Creek Metro Park: 5000 Hametown Rd., Norton

Cross-country skiing

-- Firestone Metro Park / Warner Road Area: Redwing Trail, Walking Course and Willow Trail; 200 E. Warner Rd., Akron

-- Furnace Run Metro Park / Brushwood Area: Rock Creek Trail and halfway around Brushwood Lake; 4955 Townsend Rd., Richfield

-- Goodyear Heights Metro Park / Pioneer Area: Alder Trail; 550 Frazier Ave., Akron

-- Munroe Falls Metro Park / Lake Area: Skiing is permitted on paved surfaces, fields, and on Indian Spring Trail to Heron Pond; 521 S. River Rd., Munroe Falls

-- Munroe Falls Metro Park / Tallmadge Meadows Area: Meadow Trail; 1088 North Ave., Tallmadge

-- Silver Creek Metro Park / Cross-country Course: 4579 Medina Line Rd., Norton

-- Silver Creek Metro Park / Pheasant Run Area: Chippewa and Pheasant Run trails; 5000 Hametown Rd., Norton

-- Springfield Bog Metro Park: Prairie Trail; 1400 Portage Line Rd., Springfield Twp.

Cross-country skiing is also possible on the 34-mile Bike & Hike Trail, the district's 22.4 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, and the 6-mile Freedom Trail in Tallmadge. For trailhead locations, please call 330-865-8065 or visit summitmetroparks.org.

Turkeys a regular sight in parks

Turkeys aren't just found on farms and Thanksgiving tables. Wild turkeys have made a remarkable comeback since being extirpated from Ohio in 1904. Now, they are a common sight within Summit Metro Parks.

Turkeys can be spotted at Liberty Park in Twinsburg, where visitors can not only see the birds but can enjoy learning and relaxing at the nature center. Summit Metro Parks Naturalist Joe Malmisur said the birds might be seen from the boardwalk portion of the 1.1-mile Ledges Trail, since the 3,000-acre park's mix of habitats -- forest, fields and wetlands -- in northeast Summit and Portage counties appeal to the big birds.

The wild turkey is the largest game bird in North America, ranging from 3- to 4-feet tall and weighing up to 24 pounds. Farm-raised turkeys, the center of a typical Thanksgiving feast, are twice the size of wild turkeys and usually cannot fly because of their size.

"A common misconception is that wild turkeys live only on the ground, but in reality they sleep in trees," Malmisur said. "This behavior protects them from predators. There is always an appointed 'sentinel' that keeps watch, and will sound a full alert to the others in the flock if something is awry."

Wild turkey breeding starts in early spring with an average clutch size of 12 eggs. About six to 12 hours after they hatch, young turkeys -- called poults -- are able to walk. Within about a day they can run and are able to peck at insects.

Less than 100 years ago, Ohio didn't have any wild turkeys due to farming and loss of habitat. Turkeys were trapped in other states by the Ohio Division of Wildlife in the 1950s and reintroduced, first in the forests of southeast Ohio.

The nature center at Liberty Park features indoor and outdoor displays that honor the site's natural and culture history. The center is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is always free. For more information about Liberty Park, call 330-487-0493.

January hikes:

Telltale tracks

Join for Tell Tale Tracks Jan. 12 from 2 to 3 p.m. at Liberty park and the Pond Brook Conservation Area, 3973 East Aurora Road in Twinsburg. Who left these footprints? Make some tracks of your own while we discover signs of wildlife. For information, call 330-865-8065.

Coffee with the Birds

Join for Coffee with the Birds, 9999 Liberty Road in Twinsburg Jan. 14 from 10:30 a.m. until noon,, for a peaceful morning discussion at the wildlife viewing area, and find out why it's a favorite of our winged winter residents. Bring a mug. Coffee is provided. For information, call 330-865-8065.

Metro Parks throughout the year

Hike a different trail each month, taking a photographic record of the seasonal changes that happen. The next session will be Jan. 14 from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Liberty Park and Pond Brook Conservation Area. In December we'll come in from the cold and review the year in pictures. You can take your own pictures or just enjoy the hikes. For information, call 330-865-8065.

Tracks for Kids

Go on a hike, learn the basics of tracking and search for clues that animals have left behind: tracks and scat, Jan. 16 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Liberty Park Conservation Area, 3973 East Aurora Road. For information, call 330-865-8065.

School's out cookout

Bring hot dogs and buns to cook over an open fire, and we'll provide drinks and condiments at this cookout, Jan. 16 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Liberty Park Nature Center, 9999 Liberty Road. Enjoy nature trivia while cooking and eating your lunch. Advance registration begins Jan. 5.. For information, call 330-865-8065.